RAU hosts Sainsbury’s away day
The Royal Agricultural University recently hosted an ‘away day’ for key members of Sainsbury’s Sustainability team, exploring how to identify credible and effective standards and labels.
The day was organised by the RAU Consultancy team and facilitated by Senior Lecturer in Food Production Management, Louise Manning. It provided an informal discussion forum in which Sainsbury’s were free to explore some of their everyday working challenges, and examine important themes surrounding perception of sustainability and credibility, the issues with economic sustainability, and the boundaries of their responsibility across the food chain.
To make the day as stimulating as possible, the RAU invited some key speakers with extensive involvement and wide ranging experience within elements of sustainability and the food chain. Guest speakers included Rob Hooper, Technical Manager of Mack Multiples; a leading UK-based fresh produce importer.
Rob has an on-going close relationship with the RAU, having worked together on a Feasibility Study in 2007, to improve small scale farmers’ access to the growing UK market for horticultural products, establishing ‘Zambian Small Scale Growers (ZSSG)’ and ensuring sustainable marketing opportunities locally and regionally. Rob shared his experience and views of working towards sustainable development within the international context.
Additionally, Norma Tregurtha, Senior Policy Manger of ISEAL spoke of her interaction with governments, NGOs and business groups and discussed with Sainsbury’s the challenges of multiple standards and ensuring credibility within the retailer standards used.
Other speakers and attendees included Dr Richard Baines, Principal Lecturer in Management Systems for Food Safety and the Environment at the RAU; who debated the issue of measuring the impact of sustainability policies and practice, and Judy Whittaker, Communications Manager for Fresca, a supplier of fresh produce to the UK.
The day allowed a series of take-away messages from the sharing of relevant experiences.